What's the difference or different hues of meaning between these three phrases?

  • Isn't this more for philosophy.SE? – Mitch Feb 10 '12 at 16:03
  • @Mitch, Everything can be of philosophy. – Pacerier Jun 6 '17 at 6:05

In common usage, they all mean pretty much the same thing. In a specific philosophical or religious context they might have distinct meanings, but as Mitch says in his comment, if you want to get into that this probably isn't the right site.

  • Ah! I see. Thank you. NO, I just thought that they all have a very clear difference in common usage. – brilliant Feb 10 '12 at 16:16
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    No. Most words don't have clear meaning differences in any usage. In fact, most words have many meanings, depending on their context and use; the illusion of precise differentiation is achieved more by presupposition, implication, and misdirection. – John Lawler Feb 10 '12 at 17:08
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    @brilliant The phrase "material world" refers to the physical, corporeal world. If you say, "Madonna is a very material girl" you mean she is very interested in money. It's two different, unrelated definitions of the word. I assume the song was intended to be something of a pun on this: I'm a material (greedy) person living in a material (corporeal) world. (A surprisingly sophisticated pun for a pop tune, now that you bring it up.) continued ... – Jay Feb 13 '12 at 16:21
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    (continued) Similarly, the word "materialism" can mean "greed", or it can also refer to the philosophical theory that the material world is the only reality there is, i.e. there is no such thing as the supernatural, souls, etc. – Jay Feb 13 '12 at 16:22
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    @Jay - You should re-write your comments as an answer as you are the only one so far who has seen and pointed out the difference between two of those phrases. – brilliant Feb 14 '12 at 1:01

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